TEHRAN: The Internet and the proliferation of satellite technology mean Iran can no longer control foreign news and television broadcasts, the country´s culture minister said on Sunday, urging a new approach.
In remarks that signal the government´s intention to open Iran up to the world, Ali Jannati told police commanders that new delivery systems ignore borders, making censorship measures redundant.
“In the past, through pressuring the media or guiding the information, we could direct public news and take control of it,” state media quoted him as saying.
“But today the scene has changed dramatically. Controlling the media is no longer possible technically or geographically.”
Although satellite television remains illegal, Iran is a technologically wired country with a youthful population, more than half of which is under the age of 30.
Smartphone use is very high and millions of homes have satellite dishes and receivers that capture and decode signals from foreign news and entertainment channels.
Despite occasional clampdowns and confiscations of equipment, families more often than not buy another dish and continue to watch officially banned content.
The election of President Hassan Rouhani in June 2013 has seen the government move to loosen Internet censorship but it has faced resistance from the judiciary and high-ranking officials who say it would lead to “Westernisation” and immoral content use.
Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, the culture ministry has been charged with ensuring books, films, art and other media are compatible with the country´s predominant Shiite Muslim faith.